More Pennsylvania restaurants are paying the price for defying Governor Wolf’s COVID-19 mitigation orders. As part of its latest round of inspections, The Department of Agriculture announced it has ordered 33 more restaurants to close for allowing patrons to eat indoors. The inspections took place December 21-27. Under the governor’s latest mandate, restaurants are not permitted to serve customers indoors for three weeks ending January 4. In addition, locations must continue to follow rules requiring employees to wear masks while they offer carryout, takeout and serve diners outdoors. The Department conducted 381 inspections. Fifty of them were prompted by complaints filed about orders not being followed. Restaurants have been warned if they continue to defy the closing orders and operate in any manner, they will be referred to the Department of Health for further legal action.

Nine of the Midstate’s 10 counties have fewer new COVID-19 cases then they had a week earlier. Mifflin County—for a month the commonwealth’s hardest-hit county, by some measures—improved by every measure for a second consecutive week according to Department of Health data. Days after the US crossed the grim milestone of more than one in every 1,000 Americans having died of COVID-19, it was calculated one in every 416 Mifflin County residents has now died from the virus. The commonwealth reported its 15,000th COVID death Monday. And although medical officers at Geisinger Lewistown Hospital confirmed a recent drop in demand on the hospital’s intensive care unit, there is fear a new surge following the current holiday period with officials saying it can change at a moment’s notice.

PennDOT is alerting motorists Mann’s Narrows Road will remain closed through Friday, January 8. The road closed earlier this week due to a rockslide, leaving crews to perform site cleanup. There are two detours in place during this closure. Traffic heading toward Reedsville will take West Freedom Avenue to Route 322 westbound. Traffic heading toward Yeagertown will take Route 655 to Route 322 eastbound. PennDOT will reopen the road sooner if work progress allows. It will also issue an update once the road is reopened.

Representative John Hershey (R-Mifflin/Juniata/Franklin) has been named to the House Appropriations Committee as he begins his second term as a lawmaker. The Appropriations Committee is the driving force behind the state budget. Its members question spending requests put forward by agencies, debate the merits of those requests and draft a budget proposal that goes to the full House for approval. Hershey said the coming year may be one of the hardest as they craft a budget amidst the economic strains created by the pandemic and shutdown orders, but he’s ready to do his part to oppose sending and tax increases. The 2021-22 Legislative Session starts Tuesday, January 5, when members are sworn into office.

PennDOT announced all driver license and photo centers will be closed Friday, January 1, 2021, in observance of the New Year’s Day holiday. Locations will close at 12:15PM tomorrow (Thursday, December 31). Customers may still obtain a variety of driver and vehicle products and services, including all forms, publications and driver training manuals, online through PennDOT’s website,